The first human trial on gene therapy to treat erectile dysfunction has demonstrated its efficacy, and shows that it may be a viable alternative to oral medications such as Viagra and Cialis.
Dr. Melman and two study centers worked with 11 men and administered various doses of a transfer gene called hMaxi-K. “While this phase 1 safety trial was not designed to provide efficacy answers, one patient in each of the higher dose groups (5000 and 7500 micrograms) reported clinically significant and sustained improvements in ED. And, there have been no adverse effects with the patients in the study, so it has been proven to be safe,” he adds.
“The hMaxi-K stimulates potassium ion transfer in the smooth muscle cells of the penis,” says Dr. Melman. The hMaxi-K gene works by creating additional potassium channels (the chemical symbol for potassium is ‘K’) in the smooth muscle cell of the penis. This relaxes the muscle and allows blood flow required for an erection.
According to the investigators in the study, this gene therapy approach may help address not only erectile dysfunction, but perhaps overactive bladder disease as well.